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Witness
Digging Up The Past
One man sets out to exhume the ghosts of Spain's totalitarianism past.
Last Modified: 18 Jun 2009 13:19 GMT

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Director: Isobel Eaton

Spain has had a turbulent recent history. The civil war between Nationalists and Socialists led to four decades of repression under General Francisco Franco's military dictatorship.

When Franco died, Spain turned its back on totalitarianism and embraced a democratic future. But its past lay buried in silence. There was no acknowledgment of the abuses committed under the military dictatorship or by both sides during the civil war. It was assumed that by drawing a veil over the past, Spain would face a brighter future.

Maximo Molina wants to dig up the ghosts of the past, literally. Maximo's grandfather was one of many victims of General Franco's military dictatorship. Behind a 16th Century monastery, a former sanctuary turned prison and killing ground, Maximo and a group of archaeologists are digging up the bodies of countless victims. Nearly 200 000 victim's in unmarked graves have been exhumed across Spain.

Maximo says that friends and families of the deceased have nothing to honour their memories. No memorials, no proper graves, no where to go and mourn. People throw ashes of their relatives over the former prison walls so that they can be laid to rest with their loved ones.

Now he is not only exhuming bodies, but documenting the horrifying ways in which they were killed and often dumped into graves one on top of the other. 

There are some people who aren't as keen to bring the past to light, and Maximo has been warned to stop digging lest he end up like his grandfather.

On another worrying note for people like
Maximo, the military has suggested that they might involve themselves in the government once again. And even though the future of Spain looks firmly democratic, the buried past is still haunting the present.

Source:
Al Jazeera
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